Oil prices mixed in Asian trade

Oil prices were mixed in Asia Friday, with analysts warning of further downward pressure owing to a global oversupply and a strong dollar.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for April delivery eased 16 cents to $43.80 and Brent for May climbed 18 cents to $54.61 in afternoon trade.

"The price fluctuations seem flat at the moment as traders are still wary of the oversupply situation," Ric Spooner, market analyst with CMC Markets in Sydney, said by telephone.

Spooner added that the supply glut shows no signs of diminishing after the Kuwaiti oil minister said on Thursday that members of the OPEC cartel have no choice but to maintain current production levels -- despite falling prices -- in order to preserve their market share.

"Within OPEC, we don't have any other choice than keeping the ceiling of production as it is because we don't want to lose our share in the market," Ali al-Omair told reporters in Kuwait on Thursday.

Kuwait is a key member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that pumps about one-third of the world's oil.

OPEC's decision in November to keep production unchanged sent oil prices plunging.

The OPEC crude oversupply is being exacerbated by strong oil production in the United States, the world's biggest economy.

Data from the US Department of Energy showed stockpiles jumped 9.6 million barrels for the week ending March 13, higher than expected.

The report showed US production also rose, by 0.6 percent in the week to 9.4 million barrels.

World oil prices have collapsed by about 60 percent since June.

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